Flexible Architektur, Usability und Wikis …

… war der Titel meiner Session am DesignCamp Cologne. Hier im Player ein Mitschnitt von Make.tv – als ein Teil der Live-Streaming Dokumentation. Und ja, wenn ich gewusst hätte dass ich ins Fernsehen komme hätte ich mir (Barcamp-untypisch) einen Anzug angezogen …

Folien zur Session folgen in kürze via Slideshare.

Update: though it seems that I linked the wrong video, it isn’t so. The make.tv player is your way into all the sessions they streamed at the #dcc09. So, hit Menu and use the fancy navigational buttons on the left and right to scroll through all the videos they are offering, you may start with my session anyway.

Web 2.0 Expo Europe: Improving Your Site’s Usability – What Users Really Want

These are my notes from the second Expo workshop with Leisa Reichelt, on Improving Your Site’s Usability – What Users Really Want. Here’s the post covering the morning workshop: Collaboration Techniques that really work.

Now let’s see:

  • It ain’t really funny, but yes, in usability no two experts have got the same understanding. Usability is a field full of theories, many good books out there, and some good blogs too I guess.
  • To achieve something that works for the user (hey, this is important for behind the firewall Enterprise 2.0 stuff too) we need both rules and testing, i.e. design guidelines and rules, common conventions and all are not enough to ensure success. Some rules have lost their relevance by now (e.g. three clicks to rule it all …)
  • In the field of usability we’re dealing with human brains – these are good at a lot of things, but can be fooled easily (they have finite storage capacity, like when short term memory struggles to store more than about nine things, trying to deal with this e.g. by chunking up things together only works a bit. When attention is a limited commodity we tend to do one decision at a time and stick to habits and learned procedures (yes, these are useful at times, as they require no attention). Our long term memory stores only what we can’t easily deduce (via mental shortcuts and “lifehacks”).
  • What else? Interruptions burden our short term memory, switching between tasks takes effort, in modern life unexpected things happen all the time (can you spell Twitter?) making it hard to form habits, yet computers and software expects us to remember how to do things. Here, Leisa talked about the Principle of Commensurate Effort, i.e. people will spend a considerable amount of effort on things that is in proportion to the value they perceive (reminds me both of Bruno Figueiredo’s talk and the notion of “early adopters will use anything” and the Twitter failwhale). Well, yes, even when people are putting up with it, it’s no excuse for bad usability design – and there are good reasons to this too (adoption rests on the motivation of your early adopters, treat them well).
  • Leisa talked about Alan Cooper and “polite computing” (14 Principles of Polite Apps, pdf), i.e. software that is interested in me, perceptive, forthcoming, self-confident and responsive. Great rules and lifehacks: make the easy easy, and the difficult possible (yes, wikis make that sound natural), make it quick to scan & digest, avoid clutter and text-only (well, tagclouds are a different beast in my book), users read when needed and avoid it when not needed …
  • More user adoption lifehacks: speak the right language (avoid marketese, legalese, technese), lay information scents, i.e. use keywords to guide people in the right direction, people will sniff it out, much like the way they will when you try to foul them (yes, well put, seeing these effects e.g. in wiki portal site usage, when people are avoiding the nicely done navigation and go directly into search mode, and when they rely on the breadcrumb navigation).
  • Leverage seducible moments (Jared Spool, see e.g. The Search for Seducible Moments). i.e. “there are specific moments where designers are most likely to influence a shopper to investigate a promotion or special offer. Most of the time, these moments come after the shopper has satisfied their original mission on the site. If we identify the key seducible moment for a specific offer, we can often see over 10 times as many requests”. I wonder how this can be used for intranet application design, got some ideas but need to rework them …
  • Support users in a rush, as the paradox of the active user is dreadful (I haste to get rapid results, ergo I make mistakes, making me slower, …), give feedback (“you’re doing great!”). Hmmm, sites should give lots, probably that’s behind one of the great things about wikis – they provide instant gratification.
  • don’t under-estimate “tunnel vision“, people are able to ignore a lot, i.e. banner blindness, don’t underestimate the task focus of users – they ignore most stuff. Yes, you need to know what they want to do and get them there, and you need to have an experience strategy.
  • User Centered Design as such is interested in both strategic and tactical elements. Whereas Steve Krug’s “Don’t make me think” is on a strategic level, Luke Wroblewski’s  “Web Form Design” is on a tactical level.
  • Why do UCD (in Enterprise 2.0)? Four key benefits are increased revenue, reduced project risk, reduced customer support costs and more customer retention (yikes, yes, internal users of our systems are customers too ;). All too often project teams don’t understand genuine user requirements (easy, users don’t understand their own requirements themselves at times) – at the same time making late changes is slow and expensive.
  • Some ideas: Don Norman and The Design of Everyday Things (“we tend to project our own rationalisations and beliefs onto the actions and beliefs of others”), Jakob Nielsen “to design an easy-to-use interface, pay attention to what users do, not what they say“, user research helps you uncover, understand and design for REAL user requirements.

Now, check out the slides:

Usability innovativer Intranet-Werkzeuge: Einfachheit, Schnelligkeit, Klarheit

Hier kurz die Zusammenfassung meines Vortrags an den Intranet.days 2008 (“Usability innovativer Intranet-Werkzeuge: Einfachheit, Schnelligkeit, Klarheit”)

– Meine These: Usability ist Erfolgsfaktor für breite Akzeptanz unter den Mitarbeitern
– wir brauchen diese Akzeptanz um die bestehenden Anforderungen an effiziente Zusammenarbeit zu erfüllen

Vorteile Wiki
– Wikis stehen für Einfachheit, Schnelligkeit, Klarheit, sind aber nur ein Element des Enterprise Social Software Werkzeugkastens
– Fokus auf Content (barrierefrei, auch mobil zugänglich)
– einfaches schnelles Publizieren mit Wikis – alle sind Editoren, nicht nur eine ausgewählte (professionelle) Gruppe
– Wiki als Verschlankung des Publikationsprozesses
– Wiki als Chance die Beteiligung auf viele Köpfe zu verteilen

– Usability ist wichtig weil wir mehr Beteiligte im Intranet haben wollen – diese sind aber keine professionellen Informationsarbeiter …
– Fünf Elemente von Usability: Learnability, Efficiency, Memorability, Fehlertoleranz, Joy of Use/Satisfaction
Twitter als Messlatte für Einfachheit

– Strukturen, insbesondere Prozesse der Wissensarbeit müssen angepasst werden
– Change Management – wird durch “persuasive technology” erleichtert
– Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win
– Der Nutzen von Wikis kann den Nutzern in der Regel schnell klargemacht werden
– Small is the new Big – Wikis als kleine Lösung, die aber potenziell sehr groß sein kann
– People designing their own experiences – bspw. in Form von Subportalen im Wiki für Projektgruppen, individuelle Wissensarbeiter etc.

– Inwiefern kann das Wiki-Konzept auch in großen Unternehmen eingesetzt werden?
– In Deutschland ist noch viel Zurückhaltung zu spüren, dies ist u.a. in global agierenden Unternehmen anders
– Rechtliche Fragen und Ängste bestimmen in Deutschland noch die Diskussion
–  Die ersten Unternehmen, die Wikis verstehen und umsetzen können (Effizienz-)Vorteile haben – vor der langsameren Konkurrenz
– Es ist ratsam Experimente zu machen – Pilotprojekte in kleinen Einheiten konzipieren, von den Erfahrungen lernen und dann “skalieren”
– Gute Use Cases für den Einstieg sind bspw. Glossare, FAQs, …
– Von Design-Paradigmen lernen – Prototypen, Experimente, Nutzerbeobachtung, Perpetual Beta …”Instead of arguing, we should be iterating”.

Termine: Seminar zu Enterprise Portals, Enterprise 2.0 Usability und mehr

Transparenz von Terminplänen ist manchmal eine gute Sache – wer mich bei den folgenden Veranstaltungen treffen möchte weiß nun wo und wann. Also, rund um verschiedene Kundentermine (die ich natürlich nicht transparent machen werde …) bin ich in nächster Zeit hier tätig:

Als erstes das Barcamp Bodensee – vom 31. Mai bis zum 01. Juni in Friedrichshafen.

Es folgen die Intranet.days vom 3.-5. Juni 2008, hier werde ich zusammen mit Michael Schuler von der Architektenkammer Baden-Württemberg am ersten Konferenztag einen Vortrag mit dem Titel “Usability innovativer Intranet-Werkzeuge: Einfachheit, Schnelligkeit, Klarheit” halten.

Insbesondere freue ich mich auf die Panel-Diskussion mit allen Referenten zum Abschluss des ersten Veranstaltungstages. Aufgrund der thematischen Vielfalt ist ein spannender Tag garantiert, das ausführliche Programm der Intranet.days mit allen Uhrzeiten und Referenten ist hier zu finden.

Leider kann ich nur am ersten Konferenztag teilnehmen, das liegt an einer Terminkollision mit dem dritten Dresdner Zukunftsforum am 5. Juni – veranstaltet von der T-Systems Multimedia Solutions. Motto ist „Leben in der digitalen Welt“, unter anderem wird Don Tapscott zu dem durch „Web 2.0“ eingeleiteten Wandel zum „Unternehmen 2.0“ und Wikinomics sprechen:

Im Mittelpunkt des Zukunftsforums stehen nicht die Technik, sondern neue Möglichkeiten zum sozialen Austausch, die durch moderne Technologien entstehen. Wie verändert der Einsatz von „sozialer Software“ die Arbeitswelt? Welche neuen Möglichkeiten bietet das Web 2.0 der Unternehmensführung?

Passt sehr schön zu meinem Termin am 10. Juni in München. Hier werde ich im Auftrag von Componence und BEA Systems einen Vortrag zum Thema Enterprise 2.0 halten. Im Mittelpunkt werden Praxisberichte und Implementierungswege stehen, sprich welche Einsatzmöglichkeiten bestehen und wie Unternehmen diese Konzepte erfolgreich umsetzen können. Ich werde dabei u.a. auch eine Brücke zum Thema Geschäftmodellinnovation schlagen, d.h. deutlich machen, wie mit Enterprise 2.0 Konzepten Business- und Marketing-Ziele erreicht werden können.

Und ein Termin für die langfristige Planung, vom 26.-27. Juni findet in Kopenhagen die reboot10 statt, hoffentlich mit mir …

“[…] a community event for the practical visionaries who are at the intersection of digital technology and change all around us…

2 days a year. 500 people. A journey into the interconnectedness of creation, participation, values, openness, decentralization, collaboration, complexity, technology, p2p, humanities, connectedness and many more areas.”

Focusing on people and work relations, usability and more …

Socialtext has announced version 2.20, with improvements to the user experience and added Dashboard and People modules. Besides the “Facebook for the enterprise” approach, that puts people and work relations at the center of interest, I particularly like the focus on integration and usability (yes, this is important): Ease-of-use can be a dig differentiator in this market of “enterprise collaboration suites” (wikis are a central part still) – corporate users don’t want to spend days of training to learn “systems”: It’s better to spend the time (and consulting budget too, you know) on coaching and implementation, supporting early users, building up internal support (and use cases) etc.

Here’s a video demo of the newly added capabilities (via Jon Grorud and Socialtext Customer Exchange):

In this context, Scott Schnaars explains the direction and goals of Socialtext along four business use cases:

  • Collaborative Intelligence for sales and marketing
  • Participatory Knowledgebase for service and support
  • Flexible Client Collaboration for professional services
  • Business Social Networks for partners and customers

Disclaimer: Jon pointed me to this video, alas – I am subscribed to Ross Mayfield and the Socialtext news and feeds anyway. Consultants need to stay up to date … and that’s where this is apt:

Disclaimer 2: I know there are other players in this market too, like Jive’s Clearspace, XWiki, BlueKiwi, MyWorkLight – even Lotus Connections might stand the test and integrates well (I don’t have to link the IBM guys – do I?).

Wiki usability and Enterprise software sexyness

There’s an interesting debate going on, which is definitely worthwhile to follow. Arguments are exchanged whether, and if so how enterprise software can be as “sexy” as the all new web. Robert Scoble triggered it off (but somebody else called for it in the first place), got criticized and even flamed badly, others came to help, and so on. You know the game, see Techmeme for more. I am sure you will be enjoying the discussion in all branches and forks as much as I am.

While discussing UI, usability, user-friendliness and all is interesting (though putting lipstick on a pig really doesn’t help much) – well, even the endless arguments of “industrial-strength-software proponents” are entertaining in a way because we know better (this is dire stuff, and I ask myself if those guys ever worked with enterprise-style-software like R/3) – I want to chip in some observations from another perspective.

As a long-time enterprise software user, developer (yes, I was – years ago in my old life) and today enterprise 2.0 & enterprise social software consultant, I want to offer look at this from a position of wiki advocate (-evangelist, if you want).

Are enterprise wikis sexy? Most people don’t think so – but I think they get it wrong: Enterprise wikis are interesting not because of their advanced technology, their polished user interface or their neat mark-up language – in fact these are kind of disadvantages most of the time when we want corporate adoption to take off. Like when people doubt whether the wiki markup language will be accepted in their companies – they sure don’t deem wiki markup sexy. Yes, these are no shiny tools, they don’t offer eye candy, but they are well suited for doing their job.

The key is to start from business applications and needs – not tools. If the starting point is a specific business application like e.g. project management or business development support, users will judge the sexyness of the application in a different way – they will look for personal use and business value primarily.

Wikis soon gain “cool tools status” – just because they offer room for flexible emergent uses, coupled with great simplicity. In this light Dave Snowden opens a can of worms, which should attract more discussing, when he’s pointing to the inherent differences between complex social software and standard enterprise ware.

So yes, wikis can even be fun to use, and while sexyness is always a matter of taste, this is a good start and adds to the other wiki benefits like scalabity, connectivity and cost effectiveness that stand on their own anyway. This is no “fantasy land”, this is today, the 21st century and the changes will be great, and they won’t be about technology or tools:

Enterprise 2.0 is already upon us, providing us attractive, usable, reliable and secure applications. We just haven’t made the move to adopting it. But it’s happening now, with Generation M, mobile, multimedia, multitasking and here. Now.

Upcoming: BarCamp Bodensee 2010

Well, buzzing a lot prevents me from blogging more – sad truths of an ever evolving digital smarter work knowledge worker’s lifestyle. But then again, other than with Google buzz (and this movie we all know and love) the first rule of BarCamp is “You talk about BarCamp”.

And the http://barcampbodensee.mixxt.eu/ this weekend is something we better talk about – an international event, attracting people from France, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark et al.

Denmark? Yes, I am happy that Kim Bach is making the trip from Copenhagen. I met him last year at reboot – another international event drawing geeks in literally droves – and we had the great time that’s facilitated by an athmosphere of kindness to strangers and intellectual curiosity. Yes, my reboot experiences are fueled by both the shared understanding and the sparkling contrarian discussions – it’s a very special climate and I am sad that this year will be a year of breath-taking and pausing (there’s a substitute for those that can’t live without their yearly rebooting fix experience). And for crying out loud I can’t even make it to the Ersatz because I’ve got a major event lined up. More on that later.

For now, let’s blog about the proposed sessions at #bcbs10, there’s some interesting stuff in there, my selection:

You see, I am cheating a bit about the interesting proposed sessions, but I really do hope that we can do some collaborative, live-documenting the BarCamp in Wave this year:

Yes, that’s the second rule of BarCamp: You blog wave about BarCamp …